Microsoft makes an enterprise play ahead of iPad Pro debut

A Surface Pro 3 push

Microsoft is looking to beat Apple to the enterprise tablet punch by announcing new partnerships designed to increase corporate adoption of the company's flagship Surface Pro tablets. Microsoft's announcement comes just a day before Apple's highly anticipated event that is believed to be the stage where the iPad Pro will debut.

As a result of the Microsoft partnerships, Dell and HP will begin selling Surface Pro tablets. In addition to the Surface Pro 3, these companies will offer enterprise software, support and services to corporate users to make it easier to manage Surface Pro deployments, Microsoft said in a statement. Partners Accenture and Avanade will build apps and solutions for Windows 10.

For its part, Microsoft is highlighting the security features that Windows 10 brings to a Surface Pro 3. Not only do Windows 10's security features and the Surface Pro 3 hardware fall in line with Microsoft's cloud-first, mobile-first strategy, but it's also a preemptive play as Apple's enterprise-targeted iPad Pro is expected to arrive with a consumer-grade iOS 9 operating system.

The enterprise partnerships

In a blog post detailing its enterprise push, Microsoft said that Dell will be the first partner. Starting next month, Dell will begin to sell the Surface Pro and Surface accessories to its enterprise customers in the US and Canada. The program will reach 28 markets by early 2016.

In addition to the mobile form factor offered by the Surface Pro tablet, Dell will also add on key software and services that its customers value, including Dell Hardware Warranty ProSupport with Accidental Damage Service, Managed Deployment and Configuration Services.

Unlike AppleCare, which is offered on Apple products, Dell's ProSupport offers support and training for third-party software and hardware as well as next-business day dispatch of parts. The former can help walk small business owners through the process of adding a wireless printer, while the latter could mean reduced down time if an incident occurs. You'll also be covered with ProSupport in the event you drop your Surface Pro 3, dunk it in water or break the screen.

More enterprise-focused Windows 10 features

Microsoft will begin testing more enterprise-specific features in Windows 10 later this month. The features will begin to show up in new Preview builds for Windows Insiders, and if everything goes well, Microsoft will incorporate the new features into future Windows updates.

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Some of these features include Enterprise Data Protection, Microsoft Passport for single-signon and Windows Store for Business for users to download company-owned apps and a curated selection of Windows store apps.

A recent survey finds 40% of IT departments plan to adopt Windows 10 before the end of the year.

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